11 dead after wrong-way car crashes in Florida and California

by Reuters
Monday, 10 February 2014 00:22 GMT

(Adds Florida deaths, two additional deaths in California)

By Brendan O'Brien

Feb 9 (Reuters) - Eleven people died early Sunday in two highway collisions, one in Florida and one in California, caused by drivers going the wrong way, authorities said.

Five people died in the Florida collision and six were killed in California, and investigation continued into whether drugs or alcohol were factors in the crashes.

A Ford Expedition SUV traveling south on northbound Interstate 275 in Tampa, Florida, collided head-on with a Hyundai Sonata just after 2 a.m., killing the SUV driver and all four people in the other car, according to a Florida Highway Patrol news release.

The SUV became engulfed in flames, the patrol report said. The other vehicle was also damaged by fire. The driver and all three passengers in the car were members of the Sigma Beta Rho fraternity at the University of South Florida in Tampa, the patrol said.

The identity of SUV driver has not been confirmed due to extensive damage to the vehicle, the patrol said.

In California, six people were killed in a pre-dawn crash when a motorist traveled the wrong way on a highway east of Los Angeles, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Three vehicles were involved in the crash on the 60 Freeway in Diamond Bar, California, state highway patrol officer Jennifer Cassidy said.

The patrol was preparing a news release on details of the crash, but the website KABC.com, an ABC television affiliate in Los Angeles, reported that a Chevrolet Camaro was headed eastbound in westbound lanes before it struck a red Ford Explorer and then a Ford Freestyle.

Online state patrol logs show a vehicle was reportedly traveling at 100 mph (160 kph) on the wrong side of the highway before the collision occurred.

Investigators told the television station that evidence of alcohol consumption was found at the scene.

Diamond Bar is 30 miles (48 km) east of Los Angeles. (Reporting By Brendan O'Brien and Kevin Murphy; Editing by Scott Malone and Meredith Mazzilli)

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